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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Had a trail worker on CT tell us to put our trash in his giant bonfire. He was camped in one spot for a week, with several horses, doing trail work
    Shelter caretaker has told me same thing.
    If you have a "giant bonfire" then that changes things a bit. I still wouldn't burn plastic. Foil certainly won't burn. But you can throw things like banana peelings, food, and clothing into a very hot fire and it will turn to ash. You can even throw green wood or soaking wet logs into a super hot fire and it'll burn completely. And I can't imagine trying to make a big fire while camping on the trail just to burn all that crap. But if someone is doing that as a tool to clean up and maintain the trail, then I certainly would have no issue with it.

  2. #22
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    Years ago my brother and I were staying at Spence Field shelter. That is when they had chain link fence over the front of the shelter. It was a rainy day and we were the only ones at the shelter. Two skunks came walking up to the shelter. My brother asked if the skunks could get through the fence. We soon discovered they could. They went immediately to the fireplace on the side of the shelter and started rooting around for garbage. After they were done there they climbed up on to the sleeping platform where were lying and proceeded to climb over us while we laid in our sleeping bags.
    More walking, less talking.

  3. #23
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    Wherever there is any possibility, packing out everything sure is the way to go.
    On my local hikes I usually pick up other's thrash every now and then, too.

    In the areas where I do most of my hikes (the Middle East deserts) there is no decent public thrash collection and treatment, so I find it best to deal with the thrash on-site as best as we can:
    After breakfast is done and while packing up, and given there is some unburnt wood left, one of us puts more wood to the fire and burns all thrash that will burn in some way.
    This includes candy wrappers and plasic bags.
    We also throw empty tins in the fire to burn out all oils and food scraps.
    Its essential to air the smoldering thrash a bit to get it burnt completely.
    The blackened tins we drag out of the fire, stomp it flat and after let it cool down a few minuts pack it to carry out.
    It helps that most packages in these countries are of traditional materials and rather poor quality. Most burn easily.
    The more modern high-tech materials we bring, the harder they burn. Package materials of multi-layer composites are bad. Hightech plastic like used for Travellunch won't burn at all.

    One of the reasons why we do this is, that animals in the desert (both, wild and stray domestic) will chew at and finally eat down each and every piece of pack material, be it paper, cardboard or plastic, that has any smell or taste of food in it.
    Maybe goats can survive this, but camels and other ruminants accumulate plasic in the stomac and finally die (actually: starve to death).

  4. #24
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    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeGoldRush View Post
    If you have a "giant bonfire" then that changes things a bit. I still wouldn't burn plastic. Foil certainly won't burn. But you can throw things like banana peelings, food, and clothing into a very hot fire and it will turn to ash. You can even throw green wood or soaking wet logs into a super hot fire and it'll burn completely. And I can't imagine trying to make a big fire while camping on the trail just to burn all that crap. But if someone is doing that as a tool to clean up and maintain the trail, then I certainly would have no issue with it.
    In a hot fire, foil will burn pretty easily. Even aluminum cans will disappear. Steel cans and glass bottles are another story.

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by bighammer View Post
    In a hot fire, foil will burn pretty easily. Even aluminum cans will disappear. Steel cans and glass bottles are another story.
    Aluminum is not going to "burn" in any standard campfire, its melting temperature is 1200 F. All it does is end up in the ashes and eventually needs to be dug out and disposed of. I think a lot of the fallacy with "burning aluminum" is that aseptic packaging like tuna packs, some hot chocolate packs consists of very thin aluminum foil sandwiched between two layers of plastic. When put in a fire, if there isnt a lot of moist food or liquids in it, the plastic burns off very rapidly leaving thin foil sheets that usually crumple up. I have hauled more than few foil balls out of the woods from campfire pits. Its not particularly toxic but is trash nevertheless.

    I do differ with the crowd on plastics, most but not all of the plastics brought into the backcountry are HDPEs, PETs and LDPEs they are petroleum based and burn quite cleanly and readily in a hot fire assuming they are not filled up with wet food or liquids. The nasty plastics are PVCs (think rubber ducky) which are far less prevalent in the backcountry. About the only PVC thing that you might run into is a cheap air mattress or possibly a liquid detergent bottle. It usually has a distinct odor and if marked with recycling code 3, its definitely something to be carried out.

    Unless PVC is burned in controlled very high temperature conditions like a properly designed commercial incinerator it forms some very nasty byproducts one being Dioxin. PVC contains chlorine and that is the bad actor. Of course firewood can also contain trace amounts of chlorine and any large wildfire produces measurable amounts of dioxin.

    If I have the time and a hot fire on a long trip I have dried out used ziplocks and burned them in a hot fire. The key is it has to be hot fire where the mass of the bag is negligible compared to mass of the firewood and the firewood has to be dry. If the fire is smouldering then it is not hot. Unfortunately the vast majority of attempts to burn plastic do not resemble a hot fire. What does not work is lighting off a pile of twigs and directly burning the the bags especially if they have wet food in them. There is a high likelihood that the only campfire hot enough to burn plastic will occur at night in dry conditions with dry firewood which can be rare in wet spring conditions, I expect few folks would ever light a fire hot enough in the AM.

    I remember encountering a famous(at the time) hiker and her "crew/hangers on" one night. Her "crew" definitely had a "better than you" attitude. When they left in the morning they crumpled up their oatmeal bags and paper trash, threw some wet ziplocks on top of them then lit the paper on fire and headed out on the trail leaving the fire in fire pit. What was left was partially melted mess with some foil mixed in.

    My take is it if you do elect to stay at a shelter site you need to put up with a lot of stuff. Its highly unlikely anything you say or do is going to influence the other persons behavior. Your options are stay away from shelters and in the future just avoid the individuals. Burning trash is typically a rookie mistake and the rookies tend to go away. Confronting someone you dont know in public is generally an exercise in futility.

  7. #27
    Registered User somers515's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    . . . Its highly unlikely anything you say or do is going to influence the other persons behavior. Your options are stay away from shelters and in the future just avoid the individuals. Burning trash is typically a rookie mistake and the rookies tend to go away. Confronting someone you dont know in public is generally an exercise in futility.
    Interesting post peak bagger - thank you.

    I agree that confronting someone about what they are doing is unlikely to work but I don't think the answer is to do nothing either. Perhaps ask a couple of polite questions "Do you think that will burn in the fire?" They say yes. "Oh interesting, I had heard that it doesn't and caretakers have to sift thru the ashes and carry out the trash later, huh, perhaps it depends on what it is?" If said in the right tone, the person won't feel attacked and maybe they think about it a little before doing it next time.

    Or if you don't want to say anything and are going to hit town the next day just carry out the trash. Maybe pick it up in the morning while they are packing up so they see you. Perhaps they feel a little guilty about it and don't do it next time. Not saying this would work every time but I think its worth a try.

    Nudging those that aren't LNT toward LNT while not being too preachy or confrontational - that's my 2 cents. I know if I was doing something wrong, someone politely and non-confrontationally pointing out my mistake would be appreciated.
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  8. #28

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    Nothing out of my garbage bag goes into the fire. Depending on who throws what crap of their own into the fire that I am around, and how much encouragement Jack is giving me, I will say something to them. I haven't often but I will. If they are willing to litter and stink up the fire then I am willin to be an ass about it.
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  9. #29
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    My experience is that most thru hikers don't build fires. I came into the Johns Hollow shelter on a hot June day around 4 and there were three section hikers there. They had a fire going. I asked why. They said to keep the bugs away.
    More walking, less talking.

  10. #30

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    I've got serious ambivalence about campfires-Love'm,Hate'm.I have had too much experience with forest fires to not fear them.If I am going to have a fire it's going to be in a well established ring when the wind is calm,relative humidity is over 40%,and the forest floor is too damp to burn.I pack out my trash,including the tp.I doubt anyone wants my tp residue in their fire ring.Yes,I don't have a fire often and I don't want to leave a legacy of having burned a National Forest,small town,and homes either.

  11. #31

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    In 2002 a friend and I started at the south end of SNP and headed south, we were well ahead of the bubble by several weeks. We usually had the shelters to ourselves during the week and occasionally shared with a weekender or two at best on a weekend. It was cold out and we tended to burn fires and clean up the sites in the evening. Many of the fire pits would have large unburnt logs filling up the ring and plenty of trash and foil. We would usually clean out the ring, reset the stones if needed and then get a good fire going and burn the trash in the pit unless it was obviously something like PVC or old fuel cannisters (found more than few propane and butane canisters in the firepits). We usually kept the fire going for a couple of hours until the large log pieces were burnt and the trash was gone. In the AM I would rake out the coals and grab the foil I could find and make sure the fire was out. The goal was to leave the place better than when we got there.

  12. #32
    Clueless Weekender Another Kevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I do differ with the crowd on plastics, most but not all of the plastics brought into the backcountry are HDPEs, PETs and LDPEs they are petroleum based and burn quite cleanly and readily in a hot fire assuming they are not filled up with wet food or liquids.
    Yeah, but I can think of maybe once in the last decade that I was at a campsite with a hot enough fire. You want to have the sort where a Ziploc bag goes FOOF! when you toss it in. Then, do only LDPE bags or materials marked with recycle numbers 2, 4, or 5.

    I'd stay away from burning PET (recycle number 1). If the burn is at all sooty, the soot will be filled with carcinogens.

    Polyethylene and polypropylene of whatever density are ductile without needing to use any nasty plasticizer, and the catalyst is usually oxygen or an organic peroxide, which also will burn clean. They're also free of the aromatic ring structiures that make the soot from PET or PS so nasty. So your recycle numbers 2, 4, 5 are all right in a hot enough fire.

    PVC - no, you do NOT want to burn that. Ever. (Maybe in an ultra-high-temp industrial incinerator with a stack scrubber.) If you've got anything with recycle number 3, pack it out!

    Polystyrene, like PET, will burn cleanly at a high enough temperature, but in a campfire, even a roaring one, it will pollute the air with a lot of black soot filled with carcinogens. So recycle number 6 is a no-no.

    Recycle number 7 is a lie. 7 is 'other material' that a vendor alleges is recyclable, but good luck finding a recycler! Since it contains God-only-knows-what, you don't want to burn it. (Exception to the 'lie' is that if plastic is marked '7 PLA' it's not recyclable, but compostable, so pack it out and put it with the organic waste when you get home.)

    So yes, I will burn plastic in the field, but only specific materials and in specific circumstances. It's almost at the level of, "I know what I'm doing, but kids, don't try this at home!"
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  13. #33

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    I burn merino socks in campfires.

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    I burn merino socks in campfires.
    So, no worse environmentally than say, a mountain goat getting hit by lightning and burning up, right?

  15. #35
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    Default Garbage burning at the evening campfire

    I plant a tree everytime I see a mountain goat struck by lightning, in order to achieve carbon neutrality
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  16. #36
    Clueless Weekender Another Kevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    I burn merino socks in campfires.
    You've been hiking for as long as you have and haven't yet learnt not to dry your clothing over a campfire?
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4runner View Post
    Anyone have any reasonable suggestions for discouraging the burning of garbage at the evening campfire??
    My suggestion has so far worked every single time for me:

    In your biggest, brook no argument, mommyest voice ever, turn to the person who did the thing and say, "Young man, take that out of the fire immediately," while handing over sticks to assist him in his mission. Look them dead in the eyes with the most unamused expression ever and do not allow broken eye contact except for if they are moving to retrieve their junk.

    If they dare to talk back, simply repeat the above words as if they had somehow failed verbal comprehension.

    This isn't a debate or conversation. This is a they just made a bad choice and need to make amends. There isn't a second side. There isn't anything to consider. They need to go get that out of the fire right now.

    Once the situation has been rectified, *then* teach the why of it.

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    . Look them dead in the eyes with the most unamused expression ever and do not allow broken eye contact except for if they are moving to retrieve their junk.



    yeah...

    like thats going to go over well in the backcountry...

    first i would size the person up, and then figure out from there...

    im not willing to get my ass whupped over a piece of foil....

    sorry....not sorry...

  19. #39
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    No sane person is going to throw a punch because they are feeling chagrinned about having made a mistake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by theinfamousj View Post
    No sane person is going to throw a punch because they are feeling chagrinned about having made a mistake.

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    key work----sane...

    ive seen punches thrown for simpler stuff.....

    not worth it....

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